Between obtaining more chickens and looking to add a few more fish to my tank, I am hoping this will satisfy the “mother” side of Mother Hen. “At your age?” you may ask, “Aren’t you a little long in the tooth to be thinking about babies?” Allow me to explain…
Anyone who has read my About page will know that I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses*. As such, you may also be aware that we take no part in birthday celebrations of any kind, nor any holiday for that matter, with the exception of the Memorial of Jesus’ death (the Last Supper) once a year, as outlined in God’s word.
However, it must be said that as a parent, few days are as special or as unforgettable as the day of a child’s birth! My decision not to celebrate using candles and cakes and birthday wishes is certainly not to do with choosing to forget the date of my children’s births. They are days I hold dear and precious in my heart, each being completely unique in its own way.
Yes, I am a young grandmother, now 49 but with grandsons coming up on 6 and 8 years of age next month. If the clock were turned back 50 years or so, I would be considered pretty much the right age for grand-motherhood, but in this day and age, it is true, I started earlier than most, having given birth to my daughter barely 3 weeks after my 20th birthday.
Long story short, it was a standard 10-hour labour, the hardest work I had ever done in my life up to that point, but at the end of a taxing day that saw my husband nearly passing out when they set my IV line (not to mention all the blood!), I was rewarded with a healthy, black-haired little beauty, 7 pounds 13 ounces who came complete with 10 fingers and 10 toes. Yes, I counted them all.
My third child, my son, was a precipitous birth that is probably worthy of a blog post on its own, since the story of nearly having him in the loo is, given the distance of 26 years, pretty funny actually. By the time I got back into bed, he was crowning and the nurses delivered my boy, not bothering to break the bed apart or to use stirrups, since he was pretty much shooting across the room already. It was like 8 pounds 3 ounces flying down the log flume, all fingers and toes present and accounted for.
It’s kind of a shame I didn’t have more kids, because if they all followed that pattern, I could have been one of those ladies who gives birth in the fields, straps that baby onto her back and carries on picking the corn. As it was, however, I made the fatal decision at the ripe old age of 22 that he would be my last. And, since I lived in the Land of the Free and the Home of the HMO, my doctor agreed with this decision.
Though I regretted that decision bitterly in later years, in retrospect it is probably just as well. Given my track record and the fact that HH’s trousers hung on the bedpost pretty much guaranteed a baby, I would now have at least 15 kids I expect, and life would be altogether different.
Why did I make such a decision? Well, that is all to do with our second child, she who is seldom mentioned, but who is ever a part of who we have become. It is quite a sad tale, a stillbirth at 6 months gestation and no spontaneous labour. A gruelling 72-hour pitocin-induced labour giving birth to a dead child is not anything I would wish on anyone. But in a ward surrounded on all sides by live births, mothers labouring and babies giving their first hiccupping cries, I found plenty to distract me.
Each cry was a reminder that every life is precious, it is fragile, and it is all too easy to take for granted when one has never faced the prospect of its alternative. When I had my daughter, it honestly never occurred to me that anything could go wrong, simply because nothing did.
After we buried our second child, however, we walked away different people. Once our boy was born a little over a year later, I had learned never, ever to assume that everything was going to be OK, and that a happy outcome is never a foregone conclusion. And once our boy was born, healthy, living, a blessing to be cherished, we decided that we were happy and fulfilled with two children.
Our second child, Chanel Alicia, would have been 28 at the end of this month.
Hence, my winterly nesting urges, all these years later.
While I do not celebrate birthdays, please, don’t let anyone convince you that I do not care about the days my children or grandchildren were born, or that because we do not have cake or give presents on those days, those children are any less precious and valuable to me.
I believe every day of birth should be a happy birth day. It is my sincere hope and belief that one day that will become a reality.
But whether you have children or want them, heck, even if you don’t want them – never, ever take the miracle that is life for granted.
* It is very rare for me to delve into my beliefs here in this forum, as for one, I feel it is not an appropriate venue for this sort of discussion, and also if I wish others to respect my own beliefs, I must also show respect for theirs, whatever those may be. If any are curious as to why I do not choose to celebrate holidays or birthdays, please feel free to consult JW.ORG our official website, and do a search for yourself. The website is available in over 400 languages.
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